The votes are in! Blue Towel Productions’ second ever inductees into the Legion of Super-Heroes Creators Hall of Fame have been decided!
You can read about our five inductees from last year here.
This year, 26 nominees were chosen by the people on Facebook and over at legionworld.net and on reddit (well, 27 if you count Tom & Mary Bierbaum as two people, which for the purposes of voting, I did not). Any writer, artist, editor, letterer, colorist, television producer, actor, etc who have worked on official Legion of Super-Heroes stories were eligible.
As best as I can tell on my poll data (I’m pretty new at all this) we had 100 people vote in the end, if I understand the way this works!
But we are only accepting the Top Four vote-getters as our official inductees.
And here they are!
Tom & Mary Bierbaum
Husband and wife team Tom and Mary Bierbaum came to the Legion via the route of organized Legion fandom, writing for Interlac, the first amateur press association devoted to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Their involvement there got them noticed by fellow members Mark Waid and Keith Giffen, who would become two of their major Legion collaborators.
The Bierbaums first became a sounding board for Keith Giffen to discuss his Legion ideas with, before joining him on the book during its 1989 relaunch, scripting the book alongside Giffen and inker Al Gordon (with Waid as editor). The book was a densely plotted and at times oblique take on the team which was different than anything anyone had tried up to that point. It envisioned a five year gap since the end of Paul Levitz’s celebrated run, during which the United Planets’ economy had collapsed and the Legion fallen in disgrace. The story showed how certain members began to reconnect to pick up the pieces of the team and to deal with the mess the galaxy had become.
In the context of this book the Bierbaums helped to create new characters like Kono and Devlin O’Ryan, and were responsible for some of the book’s more controversial retcons featuring characters like Garth Ranzz and Shvaughn Erin. Perhaps most significantly, they were part of introducing “Batch SW6”–a younger version of the Legion whose origins were a mystery.
This version of the Legoin remains highly divisive amongst fans–some hate it while others consider it to be the high point of the entire franchise. The Bierbaum’s stayed with it longer than any of their original collaborators, writing it up tol #50 in November 1993. They then shifted over to Legionnaires, which focused on Batch SW6, and continued to write that book until #15 in June 1994, just before the series underwent a complete reboot.
Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes was Mike Grell’s first regular comic book art job. He started by inking a story by his predecessor (and fellow Hall-of-Famer) Dave Cockrum before becoming the book’s regular artist in the following issue, #203 (dated August 1974). He continued in this role for another 21 issues (up until #224 in February 1977), working with writers Cary Bates and Jim Shooter. He also supplied many covers for the series well beyond this point.
As the Legion’s main illustrator, Mike Grell continued much of the modernized design work that Cockrum had begun–for example, he gave Cosmic Boy his 1970’s “bustier” costume. He drew confrontations between the Legion and most of their rogue’s gallery at the time, including the Fatal Five, the Time Trapper, the Legion of Super-Villains, Roxxas, and more. He also introduced notable characters such as the Legionnaire Tyroc, Laurel Kent, Officer Dvron of the Science Police, and the Pulsar Stargrave.
Perhaps Grell’s biggest project with the Legion came as the artist on the All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-55, a Legion of super-Heroes book with writer Paul Levitz, which featured “All 23 Legionnaires in a new epic-length novel!” according to the blurb on the cover. Specifically, this featured the wedding of Legion founders Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, and a time-travel story featuring an alternate history.
Mike Grell had a dynamic art style that carried a strong visual flair. It made a strong impression on the reader, and made him an absolute favorite amongst fans.
In 1984, the Legion had just relaunched in a new “Baxter format” that was exclusively for the direct market (a relatively new experiment in those days), and after two issues artist and co-plotter Keith Giffen began to pull back from his involvement. Into this came Steve Lightle, who began to draw the book from issue #3 in October 1984, originally over Keith Giffen’s breakdowns, and then on his own from #5.
Giffen was a popular artist but his art style was constantly evolving, sometimes to the displeasure of fans. Lightle, on the other hand, had a solid and consistent style which well suited to the Legion’s large cast and science fiction milieu which made him a favorite amongst readers. His run as primary penciller included the death of Karate Kid, the subsequent execution of Nemesis Kid, the resignation of the three founders, and a memorable solo mission of Timber Wolf to honor Karate Kid.
Most notably, Lightle drew the story which introduced five new members to the Legion all at once. This involved designing new characters Tellus and Quislet–the first two Legionnaires ever who were not humanoid. He also redesigned the looks for characters like Timber Wolf and Polar Boy, and created a brand new costumed character Sensor Girl (later revealed to secretly be a new identity for Princess Projectra).
Lightle didn’t remain the Legion’s interior artist for long (all together, he drew #’s 3-5, 7-10, 12-14, 16 & 23), apparently because he was not able to maintain the monthly schedule. But he continued to put his stamp on the series and make an impression on fans as the book’s cover artist for nearly of the rest of the series, from #25-#63.
Mark Waid’s Legion of Super-Heroes career has been quite varied and has spanned at least three different incarnations of the team.
He started off on the Legion as an editor, helping to oversee the beginnings of the “Five Years Later” version of the team in 1989. As such he had to help deal with the fallout of senior editorial mandates that suddenly necessitated the removal of Superboy from the Legion’s history all together.
In 1994, Waid returned to this incarnation of the Legion at the end of its run as co-writer, and became one of the primary creative forces behind the Legion’s first wholesale reboot. Working alongside Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer, Waid helped to shepherd a younger take on the team through a newly imagined first year, which included introducing (or re-developing) characters such as Gates, Kinetix, and XS. During his year writing for the team, he helped to script memorable tales such as a battle with the monstrous Tangleweb, a visit to a prison planet called Planet Hell, and an overarching tale involving the xenophobic White Triangle.
In February 2005, DC released off yet another iteration of Legion of Super-Heroes #1, this time with Waid as the sole writer, partnered with artist Barry Kitson. The Legion was once again fully rebooted, with the team this time around being a youth-empowering social movement as much as it was a group of heroes–anarchist teenagers fighting against a semi-dystopian world of control, order and boredom. Supergirl joined the team in issue #16 and the book was rebranded Sueprgirl and the Legion of the Super-Heroes.
The new take on the team started off strongly but while it was still running, DC began to introduce a another version of the Legion which strongly resembled the team from the 1980’s, with Superman’s involvement finally restored. With the the days of his “Threeboot” team clearly numbered, Mark Waid wrapped up his story and left the book, finishing with #30 in July 2007.
And that’s the group for 2021! For those interested the runners-up this year were Otto Binder (27), Jeff Moy (21), Jerry Siegel (14) and Ed Hamilton (14).
And for those that are still interested, last year’s runner-ups include the Bierbaums, Mike Grell and Steve Lightle, so things bode well for some of those guys. Of course, last year’s runners-up also included Ed Hamilton, so who knows, really.
4 thoughts on “Legion of Super-Heroes Creator Hall of Fame–2021 Inductees”
I liked a lot of the Bierbaum’s work but some of their fan-canon importations (Proty/Garth most notably) did not sit well with me at all.
Rereading the five year later run, I also realized the series made little effort to explain some of the new characters, farming that out to DC’s Who’s Who (which I was reading in the same time frame so I didn’t notice).
Overall no objections to the picks, though I never got into the Threeboot.
I had pretty much the same opinion about the Bierbaums–I was massive non-fan of the Garth / Proty thing, and comforted myself with the knowledge that it was only even possible because of the whole “Glorithverse” reality shift that had taken place at the beginning of the book. It’s funny now, of course, to imagine getting worked up about any sort of continuity change in comics, and with the Legion in particular.
With the Threeboot, it wasn’t my favorite at the time but now that it’s just another take on the Legion (and not *the* take), I like it fine. With Waid, if he hadn’t *also* been such a big part of the Reboot then I doubt he’d have been voted in this year.
I was blogging today at Atomic Junkshop about how my reactions to continuity have changed, in much the same way (https://atomicjunkshop.com/i-did-not-care-at-all-how-this-strange-state-of-affairs-had-come-to-pass/).